GOOD MORNING!  This year Pesach (Passover) starts Saturday night, April 7th. Therefore, one must do the bedikas chametz (search for leaven) on Thursday night, burn the chametz on Friday morning (it is usually done the morning before the Seder) and many Seder preparations on Friday. I highly recommend the article on for all who want to know the laws concerning Pesach -- (be sure to paste the whole address into your browser, or just go to, click on Passover, click on Laws of Passover) n_Saturday_Night.asp

A couple of years ago, after Pesach, I received a note from a young lady. She attended what she called a "Hurry up with the Haggadah and can't we eat already" Seder. The host was cynical and derisive and she was depressed. During the meal she gathered her courage and pulled out her copy of the Shabbat Shalom Fax and read the piece reproduced below. She wrote, "Rabbi, the whole tone of the evening changed. After I finished there was a stunned silence and then burst forth a tremendous discussion on the nature of Freedom and what the Torah says about it." Perhaps you'll consider reading the following piece at your Seder! I love this story!


The year is 1978 and the man's name is Yosef Mendelovich. The setting: a dank cell, deep within the bowels of the Christopol prison the Soviet Union. The date is April 12. On the Jewish calendar it is the 14th of Nissan, one day before the start of Passover.

Yosef is a prisoner. He is a gaunt human shell, and he is about to light a candle. Made of hoarded bits of string, pitiful droplets of oil, and stray slivers of wax, this is a candle fashioned by Yosef's own hands. The candle is lit -- the search for chametz begins.

Sometime earlier Yosef had complained of back problems. The infirmary in hell provided him with mustard to serve as a therapeutic plaster. Unused then, this mustard would later reappear as maror -- bitter herbs -- at Yosef's seder table. A long-saved onion bulb in water has produced a humble bit of greenery. This would be his karpas. And the wine? Raisins were left to soak in an old jelly jar, water occasionally added, and fermentation was prayed for. This was wine. The Haggadah which Yosef transcribed into a small notebook before being imprisoned had now been set to memory. The original was secretly passed on to another "dangerous" enemy of the State: Anatoly Sharansky.

Is Yosef free? He cannot do whatever he wants. He has been denied even the liberty to know when the sun shines and the stars twinkle. For Yosef the world of free men doesn't even begin to exist.

Yet, Yosef, perhaps, is more free even than his captors. Clearly self-aware, he knows exactly who he is, what he wants, and is prepared to pay any price to have it. Today he walks the streets of Israel, studies Torah, and buys box after box of Matzah to serve at his Seder. He is a free man now, just as he was even behind those lifeless prison walls.

Self-awareness means that we are able to stand outside of ourselves; to look within and assess our goals, values, priorities, direction and truthfulness. Unaware of these things, we remain mired in a dense fog of confusion and doubt. Can we ever be fully self-aware? Probably not. But aware enough to set ourselves free? Yes, and this is one of life's most pivotal challenges.

Achievement and maintenance of freedom is available only through the ongoing struggle for self-awareness. This process of clarification, coupled with the conviction to follow wherever it may lead, is the only way to achieve a spiritually sensitive, value-driven life of liberty. Ironically, this freedom can land you in a prison where you are the captor, while your guards are the prisoners. Just ask Yosef Mendelovich -- one of the freest people who ever walked the earth.

-- from the Passover Survival Kit by Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242)


  1. A Jewish man was waiting in line to be knighted by the Queen of England. He was supposed to kneel and recite a sentence in Latin. Comes his turn, he kneels, the Queen taps him on the shoulders with the sword ... and in the panic of excitement he forgets the Latin line. Thinking quickly, he recites the only other line he knows in a foreign language which he remembers from the Passover Seder: "Mah nishtana ha-lailah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-leilot." The puzzled Queen turns to her adviser and asks, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?"

  2. The supply of ch'rain (horseradish used by many for bitter herbs at the Pesach Seder) being off-loaded at the Madrid airport was stopped by a freight handlers strike. It seems that the ch'rain in Spain stayed mainly on the plane...

Torah Portion of the Week

The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called "sacrifices" or "offerings." According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a "sacrifice" implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An "offering" implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.

Ramban, a noted Spanish rabbi, explained that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva -- correcting his erring ways.

This week's portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement, first grain, peace, sin (private and communal), guilt korbanot (varied upon one's ability to pay), korban for inadvertently expropriating something sacred to God, and also to help atone for dishonesty.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, 'When any man (adam) of you offers an offering to God, of the cattle, of the herd, or of the flock you shall bring your offering' " (Leviticus 1:2). Why does the Almighty use the word "adam" and not "ish" when referring to a man in this verse of the Torah?

Rashi cites the Midrash which explains that the term adam is used in this verse to denote man rather than the term ish in order to teach us a principle. Just as the first man (Adam) did not bring an offering from anything that was stolen, since everything was his, so too, should you not bring an offering from that which is stolen. Likewise, we should make sure that whenever we do a Mitzvah, a commandment, we must be careful not to cause a loss to or harm anyone else!


Jerusalem  5:20
Guatemala 5:56  Hong Kong 6:19  Honolulu 6:27
J'Burg 5:50  London 6:12  Los Angeles 5:54
Melbourne 6:59  Miami 6:19  Moscow 6:44
New York 6:00 Singapore  6:55


Nothing great was ever achieved
without enthusiasm.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dedicated by...

With Special Thanks to
Mr. David Sommer
for dedicating this editon